As the pandemic continued to turn the norm upside down in 2021, the world became even more dependent on technology. Consumers now don’t think twice about relying on apps to deliver groceries, invest chunks of money or prove their Covid status for travel and even work.
The year spawned previously unthinkable ideas. Non-fungible tokens, “memecoins” and virtual real estate became phenomenons, while Bitcoin had an even wilder ride, culminating in El Salvador becoming the first country to adopt it as legal tender.
As technology advances, it is anyone’s guess what craze 2022 might hold.
Here are our predictions for the top 10 tech trends to watch out for next year:
Matthew Field’s picks
Autopilot hits the road
Elon Musk’s Tesla has been promising customers self-driving technology since 2014, even including it as an optional upgrade to electric cars prior to launch. The company’s fully self-driving software, Autopilot, is expected to finally hit US roads in 2022. But it is going to be controversial: beta testers have found the system seems to struggle with unusual road conditions such as bus lanes and, in some cases, even more basic driving. Ready or not, driverless cars look set to accelerate in the year ahead.
After years of fighting against repair shops, Apple surprised the public in November with a U-turn on so-called “right to repair”. The tech giant said it would make its devices’ unique repair manuals and tools more widely available, in a victory for environmental activists who believe that is key for extending their shelf life and cutting down on gadgets’ carbon footprint. Other device makers are jumping on board. Dell recently showed off its Concept Luna, a laptop that has half the carbon footprint of a normal computer through shedding components and adding modular parts. Expect the sustainability of your next gadget to be a key selling point.
Being able to manipulate a hologram with your fingertips or a screen just by thinking may seem like borderline science fiction, but Big Tech firms are working on this technology. In November, Facebook – or Meta – revealed a wearable device that would allow people to control a screen or VR headset through the tiniest wrist impulses, picked up via electronic signals. Elon Musk’s Neuralink, meanwhile, has been exploring how brain implants in monkeys can allow them to control computers with their minds alone. Don’t expect such implants in your local Currys next year, but look out for big research breakthroughs.